What are the various technologies that go behind designing Air Defense Missiles ? I understand apart from Russia only MBDA, Israel and maybe US has mastered these technologies. But what exactly are these technologies ?
Well by definition the smallest most mobile IADS are a modern ship like an AEGIS class cruiser, or an AWACS aircraft plus missile and gun units... normally aircraft but can include ground based systems too.
AWACS stands for airborne warning and control system. The AWACS aircraft provides not just radars and other electronic sensors in an airborne position that eliminates radar gaps created by hills and mountains and other dead space around a ground based radar, it also has processing and prioritising of targets and threats, but also the ability to hand targets off to groups of aircraft to engage the targets.
An IADS is the same, it uses ground and air based sensors to detect and track targets, and it then commands various air defence batteries and determines which systems should engage the targets... without this IADS then you have separate systems not working together... imagine the police force with no radios and no communication... like a sheriff in a western movie... a badge and a gun and a horse... but when things get bad he gathers up some local men also with guns and they form a posse to deal with more than one criminal at a time. These days with a radio and helicopters you can have dozens of police working together including people using phones to receive calls from the public to direct groups of police officers to where they are needed... in cases where shots have been fired or there is suspected to be a bomb threat then special dedicated units might also be sent to handle the situation.
With an IADS it is the same... radars detect a incoming ballistic missile... it calculates the trajectory of the weapon and it looks on its own map to find an air defence system along its flight path to assign to engage the target. They will likely also try to determine the likely targets and activate the air defence systems there too. Those systems will turn on their radar and systems and will look for the target incoming threat... but that is a really easy case that most air defence systems can deal with... an IADS is designed to defend from huge numbers of simultaneous threats from low flying cruise missiles and bomber aircraft to high flying fast aircraft or missiles and everything in between... without an IADS all the systems would be working 24/7 and would all need to have their radars operating looking for threats, but with an IADS you can leave most things off so they don't reveal their position so the enemy might route a cruise missile attack through an area of low ground between a range of hills... not knowing there is a Barnaul system with 27 Verba MANPADS there that the IADS can forewarn and they can engage the threat on their own.
Other countries develop their own systems like China, india, south korea or south africa. But they often ask for foreign help or try to copy existing systems. Wheb you don't have the industry for creating such systems you mostly try with short/medium range systems (because they are cheaper) and look for help from other countries.
Anyone can put two 30mm cannon on an armoured vehicle... and then fit 4 or 8 MANPAD launch tubes to the sides of it and fit it with a small compact radar and EO systems... and on its own it can be reasonably effective, but deployed properly and networked in an IADS that includes a range of other systems and positioned where it can protect other platforms and they can protect it it becomes much more capable.
And now they asked russia help for their ABM program. Their industry can't make something by themselves from 0. They need a basis to start from (that's why they buy russians systems.
They are getting Russian help with an early warning system for China to warn if they come under attack from air and space based threats... from cruise missiles up to warheads reentering from space... from any direction.
Saying their industry can't do that is a little harsh... basically only the US and Russia have such systems, and they are not something you can down load and run on a mobile phone... these are big expensive and horribly complex things that took decades to develop and include satellites and ground based radar and other sensors and equipment all sending information for processing and analysis to basically generate early warning of attack from anywhere for the leadership of the country.
NATO doesn't have one... just the US and Russia.
Developing effective air defense missile systems must be very complex then. Indian and South Africa are poor, underdeveloped countries so they can't spend much on their defense industry. But China, with all it's wealth...if they too struggle that means developing these systems is far more complex than we think.
It is not something that just happens... you have to take the time and the money to spend to develop it and it is very expensive. UAVs and marine diesel engines and helicopter engines and aircraft engines are the same... it takes time and money invested to get a result... you could do it all on your own from scratch, but if someone offers to sell it to you.. even an old basic model like Forpost, then you say yes please...
Now that Russia has spent money and used them in real combat they are mastering UAVs and are now about to start using UCAVs, and they are now ready to make serious naval gas turbine engines and helicopter engines on their own. Their ability with aviation technology and materials means they can improve on some of the equipment they had access to.
China didn't have an early warning defence network and of course they could spend an enormous amount of money and take a decade or two developing it themselves, but Russia has a mature operating system and they have offered to help China with a system of their own in return for some unnamed electronics capability. So Russia gets new technology capability and China gets early warning if it comes under attack by anyone... which is good for China and good for Russia and actually for Japan and the US as well... if a conflict starts with North Korea for any reason it is much safer for everyone if China can monitor its own airspace and the airspace around it and see what is going where. If China detects weapons going over its territory towards Russia they can warn Russia and vice versa... so it means better information and warning for both sides...
I read somewhere that developing the Vertical Launch System itself is an arduous task.
One of the huge limitations of Patriot is its angled launcher that needs to be pointed in a direction and it can only intercept threats in a 120 degree field of view... which means you need a lot more missiles than you would otherwise need. Imagine you had a Patriot battery and you had four launchers in that battery... they cover 120 degrees each so you can use three batteries to cover 360 degrees... say you are in Saudi Arabia and you face the four launchers north because that is the direction to Iran... their perceived greatest threat. Each launcher has four missiles so while the four launcher battery has 16 missiles the detection and tracking radar can only view 120 degrees, so you either have three batteries facing three different angles to give 360 degree coverage or risk getting attacked from a blind direction.
S-300, which has vertical launch tubes, can be directed in any direction without needing to turn the launchers or radar... even TOR has vertical launch missiles, as do the new model BUK, S-350, S-400, and S-500 and all their truck launched ballistic missiles.
Of course Pantsir and SOSNA-R or Pine don't use vertical launch.